Els On The Move?

The rumours are getting hot and heavy concerning the possibility of Ernie Els leaving Titleist in favour of Callaway Golf or even NIke Golf. Rumours have been swirling for months in various online golf forums about “The Big Easy” and his current equipment endorsements.

Not much has been substantiated but the possibility of an agreement with Callaway Golf surfaced after Els reportedly visited their UK office and testing facility in recent weeks.

Els was still using Titleist equipment last week at the Accenture World Match Play. Ernie made no mention of an equipment change on his website when he updated it on Saturday as he flew from Hawaii (he had left for there to check out a golf course after bowing out of the match play) and on to Thailand for this week’s Johnny Walker Championship.

In the last day or so, images of Els, which were once prominent on the Titleist.com website, have been removed – further fueling the speculation of a split from Acushnet, owner of the Titleist and Cobra brands. His images were replaced with those of Titleist staffer Robert Karlsson and Els is no longer listed under their staff players directory.

That seems to be evidence enough of a departure from Titleist but where exactly will Els end up? Els is a former TaylorMade staffer, their stable is quite full so that is likely not an option. It would make more sense to be a part of a staff where he could be more prominent – after all, his contract will not be a cheap one and any manufacturer will want to get as much exposure for their dollars as possible.

Callaway Golf, looking to make a big push in Europe where Ernie has a strong following is a VERY strong candidate. With Henrik Stenson moving from Callaway to Srixon in the off-season it would seem they need a strong world-wide player to lead the charge in Europe. If this is the case, he would join Phil Mickelson and Annika Sorenstam as the most prominent members of their endorsee staff.

An uncorroborated witness report has Ernie using a Callaway Fusion driver this morning in Phuket during a practice round at Blue Canyon GC so there should be some verifiable news available shortly.

Officials/personnel from Acushnet and Callaway were not available yet this morning to comment on Els’ endorsement/contract status. His agent, “Chubby” Chandler of ISM, has yet to be contacted.

As a publicly traded company it is highly unlikely that Callaway (if that is where Els is heading) would release any preliminary information until a deal is finalized.

Another long standing rumour is a move to Nike, which makes sense as well given the companies deep financial resources, worldwide recognition, and ever expanding professional staff. I will be able to investigate this possibility further when I visit their Tour R&D facility in Texas this coming wednesday.

I will be sure to provide updates as they become available.

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